With just six weeks until Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s state-of-the-art new South Lake Leisure Centre opens to the public, it’s time to look back at the legacy left by the venue’s two-year construction.
As part of ABC Council’s commitment to high levels of spend within the local market and small to medium sized enterprises, it commissioned Farrans Construction through the Scape Procure national construction framework to build the new leisure centre.
A core component and ethos of the Scape procurement system involved engaging with approved local businesses, sub-contractors and suppliers, ensuring that the Craigavon project would provide significant employment opportunities for local residents and businesses.
As well as creating more than 500 jobs during the project’s construction phase and dedicating half a million man hours to the project, Farrans were committed to providing a positive legacy in the local community through skills development, education and local capital investment.
While the construction phase alone delivered an estimated £6.5 million in direct wages to the economy, the firm added significant unquantifiable value through workshops, apprenticeship schemes, helping people into employment, work experience and site visits.
The firm’s target that 75% of employment should be within a 40 mile radius was reached, and they even managed to spend 91% of their budget within that same radius, smashing their target goal of 75%.
Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Kevin Savage commented: “We are thrilled that our community is getting a brand new leisure centre, but more than that we are delighted that we have managed to generate such an important lasting legacy through its construction.
“We thought carefully about the procurement process because we wanted to make sure that no opportunity was wasted in adding value to our local community.
“It is great to be able to say that Farrans delivered on their commitment – whether through job creation, skills development, education or showing positive female role models in the construction industry – they managed to maximise every opportunity to give back to our local people.”
Felim Blaney, Contracts Manager at Farrans, added: “The South Lake Centre was always more than the ‘bricks and mortar’ of the project as our social development commitment was paramount in providing a lasting positive legacy in the community through; skills development, education, employment and local capital investment.
“We met and exceeded all targets including 1,031 weeks of apprenticeships; providing 4,158 short courses and delivering 3,656 school workshops.
“Farrans support of the local workforce put safety at the top of our agenda and this was reflected in having no reportable accidents in over ½ million working hours throughout the project.
“We are grateful for the vision, support and collaborative spirit from ABC Council that made this project such a success.”
As a testament to Farrans for their fantastic level of consideration during the build towards the public, its workforce and the environment, they were recently awarded a Silver Considerate Constructors Scheme 2020 National Site Award.
This award recognises the company’s high level of care with regard to the appearance during construction of SLLC, and their respect for the local community throughout the build process.
It also commends their protection of the local environment, recognises the safety measures put in place and highlights how they value their workforce.
The new venue, opening to the public on Monday, November 2, contains a 50m pool and the new gym will be the largest available on the island of Ireland, featuring state-of-the-art equipment, spin and dance studios.
It also includes an extensive health and wellbeing suite, activity rooms, squash courts and a large sports hall suitable for a variety of sporting activities, as well an extensive outdoor water sports provision.
Plans for the new leisure complex were first floated in 2010 and are part of a wider and ambitious regeneration programme across the ABC area.
It represents the largest capital project ever undertaken by the council since its formation in 2015 and provides an enhanced facility designed to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of the whole Borough.